The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to lift the no-fly zone over Libya on October 31 and end the NATO-led military intervention that it first authorized in March to protect civilians from being targeted by the regime of Muammar Qaddafi.
The resolution also modifies but does not lift an arms embargo against the country, citing proliferation concerns, and ends or eases asset freezes imposed against the country's oil and banking sectors.
The UN action comes after Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) on October 23 declared the country's liberation, more than eight months after the anti-regime uprisings began, and days after the killing of Qaddafi.
After the resolution was adopted, Mark Lyall Grant, Britian's ambassador to the UN, said a new era was now beginning in the North African country.
"This marks a really important milestone in the transition in Libya," he said. "It marks the way from the military phase towards the formation of an inclusive government for the Libyan people to choose their own future."
Grant also underscored the resolution's emphasis on the need to uphold the rule of law and international standards of human rights in the North African country.
"[The resolution] strongly urges the Libyan authorities to refrain from reprisals, including arbitrary detentions. It calls on the Libyan authorities to take all necessary steps to prevent reprisals, wrongful imprisonment [and] extrajudicial executions and underscores the Libyan authorities' responsibility for the protection of its population, including foreign nationals and African migrants," he said.
The NTC has been criticized by rights watchdogs for not taking action against reported acts of revenge, rights abuses, and mass killings of Qaddafi loyalists.
Facing international pressure, the NTC has announced that it will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Qaddafi's death on October 20, which was captured in graphic videos posted on the Internet.
It has also pledged to prosecute those responsible for the former dictator's death after earlier claiming that he was killed in a crossfire after being captured in his hometown of Sirte.
The end of the military intervention does not mark the end of Western support for rebuilding war-torn Libya.
"We are ready to help in as much as they [NTC] are requesting, of course, our aid, to prepare [and] to organize institutions, constitutions, and so on," said French Ambassador Gerard Araud after the vote.
Speaking in Berlin, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the resolution "reflects that we have fully accomplished our mandate to protect the civilian population of Libya."
However, UN Security Council permanent members Russia and China have criticized NATO for allegedly overstepping its mandate and using it as justification to side with the rebels and destroy regime targets.
Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador, welcomed the impending end of the mandate, but told reporters that "numerous violations have taken place."
Russia and China have used that argument to justify vetoing a recent UN draft resolution that would have criticized that regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for its prolonged and bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters.
U.S. aircraft had taken the lead at the beginning of NATO's Libyan air campaign before France and Britain took charge.
"There were those that found increasingly uncomfortable what it was they had agreed to [in the Security Council resolution on Libya], but to suggest somehow they were misled is false," said Washington's UN Ambassador Susan Rice today.
"If it is their judgment now that for whatever reason they are not prepared to respond effectively and robustly to the crisis under way in Syria, then they ought to be straightforward about the reasons for that and not use Libya as an excuse," she said.